coffee cream bars

Coffee Cream Bars

A coffee and cream custard on a graham cracker crust. The whole things is topped with a simple chocolate topping.


Coffee Cream Bars

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Ok. So I cheated on cookie week. These aren’t technically cookies. But they are dessert that you eat with your hands and they also happen to be really good.

So I hope that you’ll forgive me that I abandoned my own cookie week on Day 3 to bring you a bar instead of a cookie.

These bars are filled with a creamy coffee mixture that is pretty awesome for anytime you need a little pick-me-up.

Coffee Cream Bars

16 bars
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coffee cream bars
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A coffee and cream custard on a graham cracker crust. The whole things is topped with a simple chocolate topping.

Adapted from a Smitten Kitchen recipe.


1 Cup graham crackers, crushed
2 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 Teaspoon gelatin
2/3 Cup strong coffee
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 Cup sugar
2 Eggs
Pinch of salt
Chocolate toppings:
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter


1) Line an 8×8 baking dish with foil, laying a sheet in both directions.

2) Combine crumbled crackers, butter, and sugar in a bowl and mix well.  Pack mixture into baking pan and use a flat instrument (measuring cup) to press the crust down until it’s flat.

3) Bake at 325 degrees for 10 minutes and then cool.

4) For filling, add room temp coffee and sugar to a mixing bowl.  Sprinkle gelatin over liquid and let sit for 5 minutes.

5) Add other filling ingredients and mix either with a hand mixer or stand mixer with whisk attachment until the filling is smooth.

6) Pour filling into graham cracker crust.

7) Bake in a hot water bath for 45 minutes at 325 degrees.

8) Cool at room temperature for 2 hours, then cover and chill in fridge for an hour.

9) For topping, melt chocolate and butter together over a double boiler or in the microwave if you’re careful.  Let chocolate cool a bit and then pour over cream bars and spread out evenly.

10) Chill until chocolate hardens, 30 minutes to an hour.

11) Lift up foil to remove bars.  The foil should peel right off.

12) Slice with a hot knife and wipe the knife clean between each slice if you’re concerned with having really clean slices.

13) Serve in cupcake cups.

The First Layer

These bars have three basic layers to them. The most intimidating layer is probably the middle one, but let’s start at the beginning.

These lovely bars sit on a graham cracker crust which, if you’ve never made before, it’s dumb simple to do.

Start with these three simple ingredients.

crust ingredients
Makings for a crust.

Then line an 8 inch baking dish with foil. It’s best to lay overlapping sheets of foil going in opposite directions. Make sure you get the foil pressed nicely against the dish walls.

In a small bowl, combine the crumbled graham crackers with the sugar and melted butter.

Next, pour down all your graham cracker mixture into the bottom of the pan and use a flat surface like a measuring cup to pack in the crust really well.

Bake the crust at 325 degrees for about 10 minutes.

The crust should end up lightly browned around the edges. Let this cool before you do anything with it.

Lightly browned.

The Second Layer

This is the layer that’s worrisome. It seems like there’s a lot that could go wrong, but have no fear, the custard/gelatin mixture is really sturdy and will hold up just fine.

You just need a few ingredients for this layer, the most important of which is very strong coffee. Note that if you’re using gelatin, then these guys become a non-vegetarian deal. It might be possible to make a custard that’s sturdy enough without the gelatin, but it would be tricky I think.

cream mixture
Strong coffee is important.

Add your coffee (room temp) and sugar into a mixing bowl and sprinkle gelatin over it. Let the gelatin dissolve for 5 minutes. Mix together with a hand mixer or stand mixer with the whisk attachment. You could also just use a whisk, but you might be in for a workout.

Next, whisk in the cream cheese and eggs together and add a pinch of salt. Mix this until the mixture is really creamy and there are no lumps. This might take a few minutes but it should eventually smooth out.

Then just pour the mixture into your graham cracker crust!

pouring cream
Action shot!

Slow Food

Getting the bars ready for step 3 requires a bit of time. Here’s the procedure I used to make sure the coffee/cream layer is set nicely.

1) Bake the dish in a water bath for 45 minutes at 325 degrees. Your 8 inch baking dish should fit perfectly into a 9×13 inch dish so just add that setup to your oven and then pour boiling water into the larger pan until it comes halfway up the side of the smaller pan.

2) Remove the dish and let it cool at room temperature for 2 hours.

3) Then cover it and chill it in the fridge for an hour.

If you’re keeping track, that’s about 4 hours of stuff. It’s pretty important though if you want your bars to be set nicely. So watch a movie or something while you wait for these guys to set up.

Layer Three

Once the center layer is chilled and set, you can prep the top layer of chocolate.

The chocolate layer is really easy to make. Just add chocolate and butter to a double boiler (I use a metal bowl over a pan with some boiling water in it) and whisk until chocolate is melted.

Let the chocolate cool for a few minutes just so it isn’t too hot and then pour it onto your bars!

Chocolate on top.

Spread this out and let it chill thoroughly for another 30 minutes to an hour so the chocolate and set up firmly as well.

Slicing the bars

I got a bit sloppy with my slicing, but if you use a sharp hot knife (heat it under hot water and then dry it off), it should slice right through the bars. Be sure to take your bars out of the pan and foil before slicing them!

Be sure to wipe off the knife after every slice. I did a four by four slicing pattern which yields 16 good sized bars.

If you’re traveling with these bars, it helps to have some cupcake tins to keep them in because they are kind of messy.

cream bars
Cupcake papers are important.

Even though the filling looks light, it actually ended up having a pretty rich coffee flavor. There’s not a lot of other flavors going on so you can really taste the coffee.

Sure, these things do take some time, but they are a pretty unique treat I think. If you’re baking cookies or something on a weekend, you could make these while you work on other stuff.

Sorry for cheating. I’ll be back tomorrow with an actual cookie!

18 Responses to “Coffee Cream Bars” Leave a comment

  1. Yeah, I think I can forgive you. Heh. They look wicked good, I'm with Tania it totally reminds me of tiramisu too.

  2. I mean seriously? Are you trying to turn me into a big fat fattie? Because this is dangerous… I have to make it!

  3. Hoping all the gans's will help me make it for our chanukah party on Christmas day after we go to our family movie tradition; time for the goodie To set


  4. I require these right now. Now. Annnnnd appear!


    Annnnnd APPEAR!

    **puff puff**

    Hm. Nothing.

  5. Since I was running out of time and traveling with them, I cut them after the second layer set, put them into paper-lined mini muffin tins, then added the chocolate layer. After 5 minutes I transferred the bars (in their paper liners) onto a plate and let the last layer set while riding in a cold trunk wrapped in non-stick foil.
    When I make them again I plan cut them at the same juncture. It was easier, less messy and presented well.

  6. Just a thought….
    Why not make them from start to finish in muffin tin with paper liners? No messy cutting, easy serving.:-) Just adjust time in the water bath as smaller portions will cook at a quicker rate.
    Some adventurous soul may wish to experiment to see how they turn out without using water bath at all….make sure to report back if it is an unnecessary step

  7. Hi I just took my bars out of the pan and slide them carefully off of the parchment which I used instead of aluminium foil. The cracker crust was not enough so I added a half cup more and was then really concerned about the amount of filling. As it turns out that wasn’t enough either. So I measured my square pan and it is 8 inches. The bars look great but are really thin. The only thing I had to do differently was using 3 sheets of gelatin instead of powdered. I checked in the internet and the amount of gelatin was right. So can anyone tell me what went wrong or if they also had problems with the amount of ingredients.

    1. Heya, not sure what could’ve happened with the filling. The only thing I can think of is maybe your eggs were on the small side? The filling doesn’t need to be super-thick but should probably be 1/2inch thick or so. Good luck!

  8. Hello again,
    At the time of my last email I hadn’t tasted the bars yet. There was a definite coffee taste, but the filling was too thin as I said. I would add vanilla extract to the filling. and maybe some orange peel to the chocolate layer. I have never put anything containing gelatin in the oven. The next time I do this I will separate the eggs. Add the egg yolks first to the cream cheese or maybe even mascarpone, then fold in the beaten egg white. Definitely add vanilla and more gelatin. Instead of the oven, I’ll put it in the fridge.

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